The nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, believes that the U.S. could get the coronavirus pandemic under control by spring 2022, but only if more Americans get their COVID vaccination.

Fauci made the announcement on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” on Monday, saying that the country’s normalcy is in the hands of the 90 million Americans who are not yet vaccinated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over 171 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, accounting for 51.5% of the U.S. population.

During the interview with Anderson Cooper, Fauci corrected an earlier interview he had had with NPR, also on Monday, where he said he misspoke by saying he didn't think that the pandemic would be under control until the fall or winter of 2022.

“I have to apologize,” he told Cooper. “When I listened to the tape, I meant to say the spring of 2022, so I did misspeak.”

Fauci went on to tell Cooper that “it’s up to us” to get the COVID pandemic under control and "crush" the virus.

“This is a very wily virus...If we keep lingering without getting those people vaccinated that should be vaccinated, this thing could linger on, leading to the development of another variant which could complicate things,” he said.

The prediction from Fauci came the same day that the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer COVID vaccine for administration in individuals 16 and older.

Fauci told NPR about the approval, “I think it's going to have a major impact for the following reason. First of all, I divide it into two major components. There are those individuals who understandably, in some respects, don't want to get vaccinated until they get the full stamp of approval.

"But I think there are probably about 20 or more percent of people who are not getting vaccinated among the 90 million or so people who are eligible to be vaccinated who have not gotten vaccinated - I believe that those people will now step forward and get vaccinated. So you're going to have a group of people who otherwise would not have got vaccinated.”

It was unclear from Fauci what percentage of the population he thinks would need to be vaccinated in order to fully achieve control of the virus in the U.S.

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Top U.S. pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci is pictured. AFP / SAUL LOEB